In one of the country’s last Holocaust trials, a former secretary was given a two-year suspended sentence.
A 97-year-old woman, identified as Irmgard Furchner, who served as a secretary in a Nazi concentration camp in World War Two, was sentenced to two years’ probation, accused of complicity in the “cruel and evil murder” of more than ten thousand prisoners at the Stutthof camp in occupied Poland. This was one of the last trials in the country for Holocaust🇧🇷 The sentence comes after the request of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which highlighted the “extraordinary historical importance” of the process, with a mainly “symbolic” decision. The lawyers requested the release of the elderly woman, claiming that the evidence presented during the trial “did not prove beyond doubt” that the woman knew about the murders. Furchner was present at the trial and practically did not speak during the process, only in the last sessions, already in December, when he broke his silence. “I am sorry for everything that happened,” he told the regional court in the town of Itzehoe (in the north). She is the first woman prosecuted in decades Germany for the crimes of the Nazi era. In September 2021, at the beginning of the process, the convict tried to escape by escaping from the nursing home where she lives and heading towards a metro station. She tried to evade police for several hours before being caught in nearby Hamburg. She was jailed for five days.
During the court hearings, survivors of the Stutthof camp gave moving accounts of their suffering. “They feel their duty, even though they have repeatedly sought pain to do so,” said prosecutor Maxi Wantzen, who thanked the witnesses for their courage. At the time of the murders, Furchner was a teenager and, therefore, was tried by a juvenile court. Historians estimate that 65,000 people died in the camp near present-day Gdansk, including “Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet-Russian prisoners of war,” prosecutors said. Between June 1943 and April 1945, Furchner worked in the office of camp commandant Paul Werner Hoppe. Wantzen noted that despite the advanced age of the accused, it was “important to conduct the trial” and complete the historical record because Holocaust survivors are dying. Seventy-seven years after the end of World War II, time is running out to bring Holocaust-related criminals to justice. In recent years, some cases have been abandoned because the accused died or were unable to appear in court. The conviction of guard John Demjanjuk in 2011 on the grounds that he was part of the Hitler regime’s killing machine set a legal precedent and paved the way for multiple trials. Courts have since issued numerous guilty verdicts on this ground and not for murder or atrocities directly related to the accused.
*With information from AFP